Like all professions, medicine is defined by its values. The values of medicine include many that are time-honored and central to our profession for as long as medicine has been accorded the status of being more than a trade or enterprise, but a profession. These values include altruism, or putting the interests of patients first; practicing within evidence-based guidelines and to the best of one’s abilities; doing no harm, of course; being honest and truthful and avoiding conflicts of interests; treating colleagues with respect; trying always to improve the quality of care, and one’s knowledge and skills; and just distribution of resources. There are others, of course, but this list, I believe, captures the traditional values of our profession.
But these are not traditional times. We live in a world, or at least in a country, that has come to appreciate other values that are no less important for, and germane to, medical practice as those listed above. I refer here to the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion. I was reminded of these values as I worked through the table of contents of this comprehensive review of Women’s Health that comprises the March 2023 issue of Medical Clinics of North America, along with the insightful, on-target Preface by our guest editor, Dr Melissa McNeil.
Equity can be defined as the creation of opportunities for historically underrepresented populations. While the concept fits well in the domain of medical education and administrative leadership, and we all can be proud of the gains made in gender equity in medical school admissions and, to a lesser extent, but still emerging, in medical center leadership, so too does the concept of equity as a professional value pertains to medical practice and development of clinical guidelines. The article on Affirming Care of Transgender Patients exemplifies equity in medical practice.
Diversity refers to the multitude of identity factors that define who we are and what we believe in. These factors include race, age, sexual orientation, and, of course, gender. Just as we should strive to make our institutions more representative of who we are as a city, state, or nation, so too we should strive to make certain that our corpus of medical knowledge and systems of care address the needs of diverse populations. Women have been left out for too long in clinical trials, and the differences between men and women in terms of clinical presentations and outcomes have not received the attention they deserve. The article on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment in Women addresses this straight on.
Finally, inclusion, which overlaps with equity and diversity, reminds us that systems of care should be allocated to all groups, women included, of course. That is why I am so proud of this entire remarkable issue. Its inclusion as a full issue of Medical Clinics of North America is a statement not just of the uniqueness of women’s health but also of its importance.
I hope you find this issue clinically useful and, indeed, inspirational.
Published online: January 02, 2023
© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.